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Good news for Poland
By the sounds of it, that most familiar and bitterest of pills the Polish sporting public has to swallow - defeat to Germany at football - was sweetened somewhat by Robert Kubica's victory in the Canadian Grand Prix last Sunday evening.
The thousands gathered in Warsaw's old town to watch the country play their opening game of Euro 2008 cheered when news of the 23-year-old's success in Montreal filtered through, with the Polish media subsequently cheerleading Kubica's win to the hilt - not surprising, given its immediate context.
"Robert Kubica - Champion! Champion! Champion!" blared Wyborcza, a headline understandable to all. Not even the power of www.poltran.com could fully communicate the others perused by skysports.com ("Amazing triumph! It conquers Robert Kubica and there is leader of artistry of world!") but the general gist is plain to see.
It was very much a breakthrough win, both for Kubica, contesting as he was his 29th grand prix, and for BMW who, since acquiring the Sauber team at the end of 2005, have gradually added resource to the Swiss outfit's already solid infrastructure and moved steadily, almost unobtrusively, up the grid as a result.
Nevertheless, we need to face facts: the podium of Kubica, team-mate Nick Heidfeld and Red Bull's David Coulthard was an unusual one and owed its make-up to a contretemps more redolent of Sainsburys car park on a Saturday afternoon than the world of Formula One motor racing.
But can anyone say the win was undeserved? Kubica looked the real deal as soon as he arrived in F1: he out-qualified team-mate Heidfeld (then contesting his seventh full season) in his first grand prix in Hungary back in 2006 and, just two races later, was to be found fending off Felipe Massa's Ferrari on his way to a third-place finish (he even led for a while) in the Italian Grand Prix at Monza.
Kubica's Montreal win came exactly 12 months after the huge shunt which dominated his 2007 season - a season which was, by all accounts, something of a struggle. In its starkest sense it was: Heidfeld finished one place above him in the Drivers' Championship - a full 21 points ahead.
Reasons were given. Alongside Kimi Raikkonen, it was said that Kubica found it difficult to adapt to the Bridgestone control tyres introduced last season. He has since played this down, saying that his malaise also stemmed from difficulties in working with his then race engineer. Let us also not forget that, after failing so spectacularly to finish in Canada, he was forced to miss the following weekend's United States Grand Prix.
Returning to the cockpit in France, Kubica showed his mettle with a fourth-place finish - the first of six successive points hauls during the summer. One more retirement followed in the Chinese Grand Prix but it could have been oh-so-different: changing to dry tyres earlier than most in a wet-dry race, he charged to the front of the field before, leading for a solitary lap, a hydraulic failure spelled retirement.
Such moments summed up the differences between team-mates: Heidfeld was consistent, while Kubica caught the eye for reasons good or otherwise. However, bringing the story up to date, he appears to have taken a leaf out the German's book. Aided by both a new race engineer and having also shed valuable pounds thanks to a new diet, retirement in the season-opening Australian Grand Prix has been followed by points finishes in all six subsequent races - Montreal bringing his fourth podium.
Such efforts have now been rewarded with the lead of the Drivers' Championship. Will Kubica will be a contender come season's end? Probably not: BMW Sauber have yet to produce a car with the outright pace of either Ferrari or McLaren Mercedes. Then again, saying as much subscribes to the notion that outright pace is the be-all-and-end-all. It isn't, as recent results for Hamilton and, in particular, Raikkonen have testified.
Regardless, there will be other years. Assuming so, it might also be hoped that success will do little to alter a personality as winning as the man himself now is. Looking more like a slightly scruffy postgraduate student than a 'racing driver', Kubica is a refreshing contrast to Hamilton, whose clean-cut appearance sometimes seems to literally reflect his polished dealings with the media. There's also evidence of a keen sense of humour (he publicly thanked Hamilton for crashing into Raikkonen and not him in Canada) and, brilliantly, his favourite sportsman is Ronnie O'Sullivan.
Back to Sunday evening then, when his victory, in the face of Poland's Euro 2008 loss, moved tabloid Super Express to spout the headline: "Kubica's vanquished Germany!" The country might have proved unable to buck their trend in the beautiful game, but thanks to their newest sporting hero, they've certainly created a new one.
Robert Kubica's Canadian Grand Prix win helps Poland after Euro 2008 loss to Germany
Thank heavens for Robert Kubica. As if brilliantly winning a Formula One race for the first time at the Canadian Grand Prix was not enough, his timing could hardly have been better to distract his countrymen from the pain Poland's football team losing yet again to Germany.
At least the footballers could try to claim some of the credit for Kubica's success, as he managed to overcome the tricky start times of the race and the football by reaching the chequered flag before the kick-off in Klagenfurt
There were even rumours beforehand in Poland that Kubica might be behind the suggestions of a drivers' strike over the condition of the circuit surface in Montreal, which would allow him and his German team-mate, Nick Heidfeld, to watch the big match unhindered.
Despite Poland having reached the European championship finals for the first time, the country's media had built up their hopes, believing that the Poles could be the surprise winners this time.
Instead it was more like 2002 and 2006, with Poland again conceding an opening goal around 20 minutes into the competition, just as at the last two World Cups, and once more being beaten by Germany.
Kinga the Polish barmaid sad but not dispirited
Of course I am sad, especially because there is great emotion when my country plays against Germany and we would love to have won the match.
But I'm pleased that Poland had chances to score. We had the match on the big screen in the bar at the Grosvenor Hotel where I work. Most customers were German but they were all very friendly and sympathetic at the end.
"the country's media had built up their hopes, believing that the Poles could be the surprise winners this time."!!!!
Anyone seen a close-up photograph of Kubica?
From a female point of view he is not bad looking other than perhaps his receding hairline.
Bastian Schweinsteiger on the other hand.....
Neil if you think this is good looking then it's a good job you're a bloke! :
Looks especially rough as a platinum blonde combined with acne.
I reckon it's unfortunate he has a receding hairline. Some men look ok after they start to lose their hair and others just don't suit it at all. He is the latter.
Pigsticker does look like I imagine a pigsticker would look.
However, neither of them could be described as attractive. But looks are not all .